Let’s start with the good news right away. Just because you’ve been labeled as “infertile” doesn’t mean that you’ll never have a baby. Infertility affects about 12% of women in the United States, aged 15 to 44 years. However, when you discover why you’re infertile you may be able to reverse the underlying cause.
At OC Fertility, caring OB/GYNs and fertility experts Dr. Sharon Moayeri and Dr. Nidhee Sachdev diagnose and treat infertility in the privacy and comfort of their Newport Beach, California, office. Here are some of the most common reasons why you could be infertile, and why you could have a healthy baby anyway.
What it means to be infertile
When you and your partner learn that you’re an infertile couple, it may feel like you’re doomed to be childless. That’s not the case. You’re considered infertile if you’ve been trying without success to get pregnant for at least one year if the woman’s under 35, or for at least six months if the woman’s over 35.
In about a third of cases, issues with the woman’s reproductive organs or hormones are behind the infertility. In another third, both the woman’s and man’s issues cause infertility. In about 8% of cases, it’s solely the man’s issue. The rest of infertility cases are due to unknown factors.
Problems with the ovaries
Most cases of female infertility are due to your ovaries not producing or not releasing eggs on a regular basis. Your cycle could be out of sync because you have a hormonal condition, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which your body produces too much testosterone and you don’t ovulate normally.
You might also have primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which causes your ovaries to stop producing and releasing eggs before the age of 40. If you’re over 40 and heading toward or in perimenopause or menopause, you might have a diminished ovarian reserve (i.e., many fewer eggs than you had in your youth).
When you come in for a fertility evaluation, your OB/GYN tests your ovulation and also evaluates your hormones. They may recommend hormone therapy that helps you produce and release eggs on a cyclical basis.
Your OB/GYNs also evaluate the health and structure of all of your reproductive organs to determine the origin of your infertility. Common structural or functional abnormalities that could interfere with your ability to become pregnant include:
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cysts
Your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the abnormality, such as removing uterine fibroids, a procedure known as myomectomy.
Health issues and habits
You may already know that being obese can interfere with your ability to become pregnant. But being underweight also compromises your health and fertility.
Too much or too little fat on your body affects the way you produce and release hormones. If you’re underweight — particularly if you exercise — you may skip your periods for months at a time. If you don’t menstruate, then you’re not releasing eggs regularly, either.
Habits, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive alcohol, or using drugs, also impair fertility. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, including eating a whole-foods diet and attaining a healthy weight, as a first step toward restoring your fertility.
Fertility in women starts to decline after age 32 and speeds up dramatically after age 37. In adolescence you have about up to half a million eggs. By age 51, you only have around 1,000.
If you’re still fertile, but aren’t ready to start your family, you may consider egg freezing. If you undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), we may also recommend egg freezing to aid in future pregnancies. Older women who aren’t becoming pregnant naturally might try IVF or donor eggs.
Abnormalities with sperm
Only healthy sperm can successfully fertilize an egg. As part of your fertility workup, our OB/GYNs test your partner’s sperm through semen analysis. Problems with sperm could include:
- Oligospermia (i.e., low sperm count)
- Azoospermia (i.e., no sperm)
- Impaired motility (i.e., sperm doesn’t move properly)
- Oddly shaped or not fully formed sperm
Depending on our findings, we may recommend that your partner consult with a urologist for treatments to help him produce and release healthy sperm.
Even if fertility treatments don’t resolve the issues that impair your ability to conceive, you don’t have to give up hope on the family of your dreams. At OC Fertility, we offer assisted reproductive technologies (ART), as well as donor sperm, donor eggs, and gestational surrogacy.
To find out more about why you’re having trouble conceiving and find the solution that’s right for you, call us at 949-706-2229 or book an appointment on our website today.